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Neuroelectric Correlates of Autobiographically Salient Music Listening in Healthy Older Adults

Neuroelectric Correlates of Autobiographically Salient Music Listening in Healthy Older Adults

Name:Veronica Vuong

School/Affiliation:Institute of Medical Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto; Music and Health Sciences Research Collaboratory, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto; Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Health Sciences

Co-Authors:Michael Thaut, Claude Alain

Virtual or In-person:In-person


Autobiographically salient (ABS) music (associated to one’s past, including people, locations, events), is posited to engage memory processes more efficiently than familiar (FAM) music. We tested this hypothesis in a behavioural study followed by an event-related potential (ERP) study using the Late Positive Complex (LPC), a neural correlate of recollection.

In Study 1, we measured reaction time (RT) during a listening task of ABS, FAM, and unfamiliar (UFAM) music in 33 older adults (71 +/- 6.8 yrs, 18 F). Participants were quickest in identifying ABS music, intermediate for FAM, and slowest for UFAM music, indicating faster recollection for ABS music than FAM and UFAM music.

In Study 2, we measured scalp recording of ERPs during the same task in 37 older adults (70.4 +/- 5.8 yrs, 18 F). Clustered-based statistics was used to identify differences in ERP amplitude. All music conditions generated transient evoked responses at onset. Additionally, we observed two significant clusters with a more positive amplitude over the left centro-parietal regions for ABS than FAM music from 378-429 ms (peak latency = 828 ms) and from 703-1101 ms (peak latency = 406 ms). Cluster 1 may index familiarity upon listening, while Cluster 2 may reflect recollection of episodic details upon recognizing ABS music associated with the past. Together, the RT and ERP findings indicate that ABS music is associated with faster and stronger memory-related activity that is distinct from FAM music. The findings offer methodological insight into the segment length for effective memory retrieval, particularly in temporal-based techniques.

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